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Asia: Shares get lift from Wall St, dollar steadies


[TOKYO] Asian shares rose on Friday thanks to gains on Wall Street, while the dollar steadied after facing pressure from a rallying yuan and US data that offered no clarity on whether the Federal Reserve might raise interest rates next week.

MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan was up about 0.2 per cent, on track for a 3 per cent rise for the week.

On Wall Street, major indexes marked solid rises on Thursday, but European stocks broke a three-day run of gains with a drop of nearly 1.5 per cent Japan's Nikkei stock index dipped 0.4 per cent, but was poised to end a volatile week more than 2 per cent higher.

Government data released before the market open showed that large Japanese manufacturers' sentiment turned positive in the July-September quarter, suggesting that companies were taking China's recent slowdown in stride.

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US data released on Thursday suggested the labour market was gaining momentum in early September as fewer Americans filed for weekly unemployment benefits, but separate a report showed weak inflation. Taken together, the latest numbers offered no clarity on what the Fed will decide to do at its Sept 16-17 policy meeting. "Based on the performance of the US economy alone, the Fed should raise rates but they do not operate in a vacuum," said Kathy Lien, managing director at BK Asset Management in New York.

Considering volatile global equities, a dovish European Central Bank and actions by other central banks, it will be difficult for the Fed to act, she said in a note to clients.

The dollar index, which tracks the US unit against a basket of six major rivals, edged up about 0.1 per cent to 95.530.

The dollar inched about 0.1 per cent higher against the yen to 120.74, while the euro was nearly flat from US levels at US$1.1279.

The greenback came under pressure overnight as China's yuan shot higher in offshore markets on what was suspected to be rare intervention by Chinese state banks, likely taking aim at speculators betting against the currency.

In commodities trading, US crude oil futures gave back some of their overnight gains, after rallying 4 per cent on US Energy Information Administration data that showed strong demand for gasoline.

US crude was down about 0.7 per cent in Asian trading at US$45.61 a barrel. Brent, which gained 2.8 per cent in the previous session, was down 0.5 per cent at US$48.67.

Spot gold was steady from US levels at US$1,111.15 an ounce, but on track to drop about 1 per cent for the week.